My Lemon Tree Grew Two New Leaves So Now I’m Obsessing About Whether I Should Prune It Or Not

Actually, I am being modest in my achievement and confessing my ineptitude at the same time.  And yet, my little lemon tree  survives.

And why wouldn’t it survive?  On the plus side:

  • it gets plenty of sun
  • it has elbow room and fresh air out on the deck
  • it is the recipient of my intense  love vibrations every morning as I sit out there with my coffee

But why would it survive? On the minus side:

  • I left it in the attractive burlap and ribbon it arrived in for a week unaware that it was swathed in thick smothering plastic under there
  • It rained and poured for the first few weeks that it was outside, causing the leaves to spot and yellow
  • it falls over every time the wind rises about 5 mph. the potting soil is very light so it doesn’t take but a puff to blow it down.
  • every time it falls over, the potting soil falls out.
  • once I found potting soil on the deck steps so I think it went for a little trip.  Sami had already set it back in its place and I didn’t really want to know if my beautiful little lemon tree rolled down the steps so I never asked about it.

So after all these disasters, I took the following steps:

  • I pulled the plastic off of the pot
  • I moved the little tree under the gazebo when rain was predicted
  • I clipped off the sad spotty yellow leaves. They smelled lovely.
  • I asked Sami to lash the pot to the deck rail with twine

And lo and behold, the little tree is surviving. I want to say thriving but I know the leaves could be more green and glossy. But even so, it’s about 10″ taller than when I got it, its growing sideways as well as upwards and new shoots are coming off of the main trunk. I consider that a triumph.

But now I have to start worrying about bringing it indoors for winter. I’ve got a nice place with southern exposure picked out where it will get maximum sunlight. All I have to do is push the dining room table over about a foot. [But that’s okay because we aren’t going to be using the dining room table anyway because it will be the winter roost for my chicken planters. I’m going to set them in a plastic boot tray on the end of the table nearest the window.]  And of course, I’ll have to look into a grow light and some citrus fertilizer. Maybe some citrus potting mix so I can put it in a nicer bigger pot.

But what about the question of pruning? I kind of want it to be abundantly overflowing the pot, because “abundant overflowing” is my personal gardening style , or as Sami calls it “You can’t even walk on the sidewalk and the sprinkler heads are covered up”. What’s your point, Sami?

Anyway, bushy shrub form or trimmed back topiary? Topiary sounds so wrong but look at this unpruned bastard:



That’s not mine it’s a stock photo but it’s totally representative. Apparently these are happy little flourishing plants if you don’t challenge them by giving them all the things they don’t want- overwatering, wet feet, strong winds, getting the dirt knocked off the roots, rolling down the steps… They bear so heavily that the branches need support. I don’t really want a sprawling short little thing so I guess topiary it is. Now I have to start researching grow lights, citrus food and special potting soil.

I really think this thing is going to make it. I attribute that to my love vibrations.



5 thoughts on “My Lemon Tree Grew Two New Leaves So Now I’m Obsessing About Whether I Should Prune It Or Not

  1. I’ve never grown citrus, but there’s plenty of it around me. A much bigger pot is definitely called for. Also, when inside during the winter, turn it 1/4 turn around about once a week. Trouble, but I do it with my house plants to be sure they grow straighter rather than lopsided. You also might want to consider a pot with wheels. Or some such thing.

  2. You’re lemon tree is nothing less than badass. Not every lemon tree is that intrepid. Be careful it doesn’t climb up to enjoy your rose bedroom while you’re out one day.

  3. P.S. – I have been rooting for you and your lemon tree because if (when!) you succeed with it, I want to try it, too. I am a So. California transplant to Washington State and the only thing I really miss is my citrus trees. Plus, I refuse to pay 79 cents for a single lemon.

    So I want to try growing lemons and limes outdoors in the summer and indoors in the winter. The only problem is, you seem to be a much more talented gardener than I am. I usually treat my plants with benign neglect. I await all tips and lessons from your experience.

  4. I used to grow Meyer Lemons and sell them at farmers markets and such. The advice I got was this: Don’t prune too much at first. Prune a bit more each year if you want fruit. Pick a lot of the fruit, but let some go to seed.

    It takes about 3 years for a lemon tree to reach maturity and start producing a lot of fruit. After that, they are really hearty and don’t need or like much fussing (granted, our tree was in Northern California).

    Good luck. Hopefully it will also do well in your climate.

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